Oh come on. I think everyone knew it was only a matter of time until I reviewed this particular movie. So when Legendary Pictures brought the King of the Monsters back to America in 2014 with Godzilla (2014), the quickly laid out the game plan for their own “Monsterverse” series of movies. Wanting to go bog with their idea, their next step in this endeavor was to introduce America’s own famed giant monster, King Kong, into the mix, with plans for the two titans to face off against each other down the road. However, Legendary needed to build up to that epic battle and what better way to do that than to have Godzilla face off against arguably his most popular foe, King Ghidorah. Now when I first heard that the newest Godzilla movie was going to feature King Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan in it, my initial concern was that they were going to do a remake of Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster. Luckily, the trailers showed that they were not going this route so I eagerly awaited for Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (2019) to come out in theaters so that I could see it. Be forewarned, this one is going to be a bit long.
The plot: At a secret Monarch facility in China, Dr. Emma Russell is remembering the battle between Godzilla and the MUTOs in San Francisco 5 years ago where she lost her son Andrew, before focusing back on the present, where she is watching the Congressional hearing on Monarch on the TV. Meanwhile, Emma’s daughter MAdison is in the kitchen reading an email from her father and is about to reply, voicing her concerns about her mother, when the smoke alarm goes off as the breakfast she was cooking starts to burn. As Emma comes in the kitchen and the two start talking, Emma tells Madison that she finished the device she was working on when an earthquake occurs, and a strange cries ring out. Emma and Madison quickly head to the Monarch observation center, where they witness Mothra’s larva hatching from her egg. The Monarch scientists activate a containment field around Mothra but it suddenly fails, due to someone attacking the system from the outside, and when a nervous security team aim their weapons at Mothra, Mothra gets aggressive and begins attacking them. Emma races out to try and use her device, the Orca, to calm Mothra down and Madison races after her as Mothra turns her attention to them. Emma man ages to find the correct Alpha frequency to sooth Mothra, who calmly moves towards Madison so that Madison can pet her, when an explosion occurs in the observation booth and Emma and Madison turn and see Alan Jonah and his men kill the scientist in the both, then approach them. At the congressional hearings, Dr. Ishiro Serizawa and his assistants, Dr. Vivienne Graham and Sam Coleman, are speaking to the Senators, arguing that the 17 titans that Monarch is observing should be left alone, not killed as many people believe, when they get word of the attack on the China location and quickly leave the room. The three fly out to see Dr. Mark Russell, Emma’s ex husband and a former Monarch employee, and tell him what happened. Mark is upset about the fact that Emma had rebuilt the Orca, as they had worked on the prototype but destroyed it after the San Francisco attack, but agrees to help them try and track the Orca so they can rescue Emma and Madison. The group heads to Castle Bravo, Monarch’s deep water outpost off the coast of Bermuda, and Mark is surprised to learn that the outpost is for observing Godzilla, who was reportedly missing after the events 5 years ago. In a briefing room, the assembled group are told that after the attack in China, Mothra had escaped to a nearby waterfall, where it promptly cocooned itself behind the falls. Colonel Diane Foster, the G-Force leader, wants to recapture it but Mark argues that going after Mothra is merely a decoy, as Jonah will be going after one of the titans that is more powerful. Meanwhile, Jonah and his team arrive at Monarch’s Antarctica base using a stolen Monarch Osprey and upon landing, quickly take out the security team on the surface, then escort Emma and Madison inside. Once inside, they head down to the lower levels, where they come face to face with Monster Zero frozen in the ice, and Jonah orders his men to prepare explosives to release it.. Back at Castle Bravo, Mark, Serizawa, and the rest of the G-Force team are surprised to discover Godzilla is approaching them and Foster orders her men to arm the defenses but Mark convinces Serizawa that they need to stand down. After a tense few moments with Godzilla coming right up to the base, Godzilla suddenly swims off and Mark says they need to follow him, as he might be heading to where the Orca is. Discovering that Godzilla is heading towards Antarctica, the G-Force team explains to Mark about Monster Zero, whom they believe was a rival to Godzilla back in the day. When they arrive at Antarctica, The G-Force teams heads down to lower levels, but find themselves ambushed by Jonah’s men. Seeing Emma and Madison on the images from the G-Force body cameras, Mark heads down to the lab and manages to confront Emma, Madison, and Jonah. Jonah’s son Ash moves to shoot Mark but Foster, hidden above them, shoots Ash, causing him to drop the detonator he was carrying. Mark calls out to Madison and Emma and Madison starts moving towards him but Emma calls Madison back, then picks up the detonator and tells Mark to run, before pressing the button. The explosives crack the ice containing Monster Zero and Emma, Madison, Jonah, and the rest of his men get in an elevator and head to the surface, with Mark in pursuit but he is forced to go back to rescue Foster and the rest of G-Force. When they reach the surface, they quickly head to the Osprey and Jonah orders Emma to wake up Monster Zero. Mark and the G-Force team reach the surface as the base collapses into the ice, and Mark sees Emma activate the Orca from the hovering Osprey, then turns and stares into the pit that formerly housed the research station, just as Monster Zero emerges from the hole. Mark and the G-Force team rush to their Osprey, with some of the team stopping to fire at the monster, but Monster Zero blasts the soldiers with it’s gravity beams, incinerating the soldiers and disabling the G-Force Osprey. Seeing her dad in trouble, Madison grabs the Orca and switches the frequency, causing Monster Zero’s attention to turn away from the disabled Osprey and focus on them but Emma and Jonah are able to get the Orca away from her and Emma quickly shuts the device down, allowing them to escape. Monster Zero turns it’s attention back to the disabled Osprey when Godzilla suddenly arrives and the two titans began fighting on the ice. Mark and the G-Force team quickly leave the Osprey but Vivienne is killed by Monster Zero before it quickly leaves, with Godzilla chasing after it. Back on the Argo, Monarch’s flying base, Mark and Foster explain to the others that Emma willingly pulled the trigger to release Monster Zero, though Sam and some of the others question why she would do that. The Argo heads for Isla de Mara, where Godzilla appears to be heading when Emma suddenly calls them. Emma explains that she is releasing the titans so that they can bring balance to the world that humanity has damaged and appears unswayed by Mark or Serizawa’s arguments against what she is doing. When she ends the call, Dr. Stanton tells the group that the Orca isn’t on Isla de Mara, but is being bounced around via satellite, meaning Emma, Madison, and Jonah could be in one of Monarch’s secret bunkers anywhere on Earth. Suddenly, they get an alert that someone is shutting down the containment field holding Rodan, the titan held on Isla de Mara. In the secret bunker, Madison tries to talk Emma out of going through with their plan but Jonah convinces Emma to keep going and Emma activates the Orca to wake up Rodan. On the Argo, Sam tells the group that the tropical storm where they lost Monster Zero has changed course and is heading for the island and they realize that Monster Zero has somehow created the storm. Deciding to lure Rodan towards Monster Zero so the evacuation of Isla de Mara can finish, the Argo has it’s fighter escort attack Rodan, causing the monster to chase after them. The Argo leads Rodan towards Monster Zero, losing it’s escort in the process, but the 2 monsters begin battling in the sky as the Argo quickly moves away. As the Argo heads back to collect an Osprey carrying evacuees, they receive a call from Admiral Stenz, informing them that a prototype weapon called the Oxygen Destroyer has been launched in an attempt to kill the titans. Monster Zero defeats Rodan and heads towards the Argo when it is attacked by Godzilla, who rips off one of Monster Zero’s heads just as the Oxygen Destroyer reaches the area and detonates. The blast seemingly kills Godzilla but Monster Zero survives the blast and heads towards the volcano, where it uses the radiation from the volcano to heal and regenerate it’s missing head. Monster Zero then begins calling out, causing all of the titans around the world to awaken and begin heading towards it, as Rodan approaches and bows before it. As the G-Force team heads back to Castle Bravo, Dr. Chen is able to find ancient stories concerning Monster Zero, whom the legends called Ghidorah, and they realize that Ghidorah is an invasive species from another planet, which is how it survived the Oxygen Destroyer. Reaching Castle Bravo, they discover the U.S. Navy has the station surrounded and Stenz boards the station and explains that the titans are attacking cities all over the world. Mark tells him that the titans are moving like a pack, responding to Ghidorah’s calls, and that if they kill Ghidorah, the titans will stop but Godzilla was their best chance at stopping Ghidorah. Back in the bunker, Madison is upset with her mother at how things are turning out and as Emma and Jonah argue over the situation, Madison overhears them via the bunker’s intercom system, and makes her own plans. Back at Castle Bravo, Mark prepares to head off to find Madison when Mothra, having hatched from her cocoon, suddenly appears overhead and begins calling out, and when they hear a response, they discover that Godzilla is still alive. Realizing that Godzilla must be weak from the effects of the Oxygen Destroyer, Mark comes up with a plan to help him, by detonating a nuke close to Godzilla so he can absorb the radiation. Mark, Serizawa, Shen, and Stanton board a sub and head down into the ocean, where they encounter an underwater current that leads them through a tunnel deep under the earth, supporting the “Hollow Earth” Theory of Dr. Brooks. Back in the secret bunker, Madison steals the Orca and leaves the bunker, which is in Boston, then makes her way to Fenway Park, where an evacuation is occurring. Back under the ocean, Serizawa orders some drones to be launched and they discover the remains of an ancient civilization that worshiped Godzilla. Locating an area with high radiation, Stanton sends the drones in, losing 2 of them but the third one manages to make it through and locate Godzilla. Serizawa says they must continue with their plan, as the radiation in the chamber could take years to fully heal Godzilla, but when they learn that the sub’s firing systems were damaged, Serizawa decides to take the warhead himself and detonate it manually. Back at Fenway, Madison manages to slip past the soldiers and head towards the sound booth for the stadium. Once the evacuation is complete, she hooks the Orca up to the sound system and activates it, causing the Titans worldwide to stop their attack but also causing Ghidorah, who was attacking Washington D.C., to head towards the city. Back on the sub, Serizawa says his goodbyes, handing Mark his notes, then tells them to leave as he pilots a mini sub into the chamber. Serizawa surfaces and heads up the stairs towards Godzilla, activating the nuke, then approaches Godzilla and says goodbye, just as the nuke explodes. The concussion causes the sub to rapidly reach the surface, where they send a distress message to the Argo, and as Mark, Chen, and Stanton climb out on the deck of the sub, they witness a revived Godzilla surface, roaring and sending a blast of his heat ray up to the sky, then he turns and faces the sub briefly before swimming off. Mark says he realizes what Emma used to create the Orca signal as the Argo appears, and Sam tells them that the Orca is in Boston. In Boston, Emma grabs a Humvee and heads off to get Madison back while Jonah and his men make their own plans to leave the city. Ghidorah appears in Fenway, destroying the speakers broadcasting the signal and Madison shuts down the Orca but not before Ghidorah spots her and attacks the booth. Madison escapes from the booth, tossing the Orca aside, and Ghidorah smashes it, then prepares to kill Madison when it is suddenly blasted by Godzilla’s heat ray, as Godzilla, the Argo, and the U.S. military arrive in the city to battle Ghidorah. Mark goes with a G-Force team to locate Madison but are told that the radiation supercharged Godzilla’s body, meaning he will explode in 12 minutes. Mark and the team locate the Orca but their Osprey is destroyed by Ghidorah. Suddenly, Emma shows up and Mark, Barnes, Martinez, and Griffin get into her Humvee as she drives them out of the park. Emma and Mark argue about where Madison can be, a comment from Barnes makes them realize she had probably gone to their old home in Boston. Meanwhile, Godzilla and Ghidorah continue to fight when Mothra arrives, temporarily restraining Ghidorah so that Godzilla can press the attack, but Rodan appears and begins fighting with Mothra. Emma pulls up to their old house, which has been destroyed, and she searches with Mark, Barnes, and Martinez, eventually locating Madison, who was in a bathtub buried under some rubble but still alive. Mothra manages to wound and incapacitate Rodan but is wounded herself while Ghidorah grabs Godzilla and flies him up into the sky before dropping him, sending him crashing down. As Ghidorah approaches the downed Godzilla, Mothra crawls onto Godzilla, then goes to attack Ghidorah but Ghidorah kills her with his gravity beams. Mothra’s radiation is absorbed into Godzilla’s body but before he can move, Ghidorah renews it’s attack on him. Mark and Emma work to repair the ORca so they can lure Ghidorah away from Godzilla long enough for him to get back on his feet but as another Osprey arrives to take them away, Emma chooses to sacrifice herself to ensure that Madison and Mark get away safely. Emma drives off in the Humvee, with Ghidorah chasing after her until it finally blasts the Humvee. Ghidorah approaches Emma, who taunts Ghidorah, but as Ghidorah prepares to kill her, Godzilla suddenly reappears. Godzilla’s body has finally stabalized but left him supercharged to the point that his body heat is melting nearby buildings around him and Godzilla begins releasing nuclear pulses, which burn away Ghidorah’s wings and outer heads before Godzilla finally kills Ghidorah. As Mark, Madison, and the others watch from the Osprey, Rodan and the other titans arrive in the city and surround Godzilla, who has returned to normal, and after a brief moment, begin bowing to him, acknowledging him as the king of the monsters. In the aftermath of the event, Monarch releases decades worth of it’s files to the public, while all of the titans appear to be restoring the natural order to the planet (restoring forests, ice shelves, and coral reefs among other things). A new egg has been discovered, which many think is a new Mothra egg, while several titans are said to be traveling towards Skull Island. Also, several reports surface about the “Hollow Earth”, and a Monarch team traveled to Skull Island to explore the tunnels, where they discovered paintings showing what appears to be Godzilla and Kong battling in ancient times. Meanwhile, Jonah arrives in Isla de Mara, where some fishermen, whose livelihood has been decimated by the Oxygen Destroyer, sell him the severed head of Ghidorah that had fallen into the sea during Ghidorah and Godzilla’s battle there.
Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (2019) met with mixed to poor results from the critics, currently holding a 41% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters delivers spectacular kaiju action — and reaffirms that cutting-edge effects are still no substitute for a good story.” The nicknames for Ghidorah’s 3 heads during production where “Ichi”, “Ni”, and “San”, the Japanese words for 1, 2, and 3 respectively. However, the easily distractable nature of the left head (San) earned it the nickname “Kevin”, spawning hundreds of memes focusing on the third head. While the movie was a box office disappointment, earning $385.9 million off of a $170-200 million budget, a third movie, Godzilla Vs. Kong, is still scheduled for a March 13th, 2020 release.
Ok, before I get into my feelings on this movie, I would like to take a minute and point out some of the nice little Easter eggs that referenced the past Toho Godzilla movies. First off, I liked the idea that Chen not only had a twin sister (Dr. Ling), but that they were 3rd generation Monarch scientists (with their family having a history of twins). The fact that they all worked in the area where Mothra was found, including a picture of Chen’s mother(grandmother) on Infant Island was a nice tribute to the Shobijin, the twin fairies that are always associated with Mothra. The fact that Ghidorah was listed as Monster Zero by Monarch was a nice reference to Invasion Of Astro Monster, as this is what the alien Xiliens called Ghidorah in that movie. Another nod to the classic films was the Oxygen Destroyer, which was the name of the device that Dr. Serizawa created in the original Gojira that was used to kill Godzilla. While the modern day version seemed to function in a similar fashion to the original, the main difference is that it was made into a missile instead of a stand alone device. Finally, during the scenes in the ancient, underwater temple, a large skeleton can be seen outside the temple before the explosion. The shape of the skull bears a striking resemblance to Anguirus, Godzilla’s first foe and later turned ally during the Showa era films, leading people to speculate that Anguirus might make an appearance in a later Monsterverse movie.
Now that I got the nods to the classic films out of the way, let’s get on with my thoughts of the movie. I saw this movie several times in theaters; once on opening day, once with some friends, and a third time to get an honest feel for the movie after my initial excitement was quelled. My honest opinion is that this is an entertaining movie, but it did have several faults that kept it from being a great Godzilla movie. The acting was ok, with some people doing good jobs while others were honestly pretty terrible. Ken Watanabe, reprising his role as Serizawa, was probably the best actor in the movie, while Bradley Whitford and Ziyi Zhang were equally good as Stanton and Chen/Ling respectively. Kyle Chandler was decent in his role as Mark while surprisingly Millie Bobby Brown, who was probably the biggest draw actress in the movie, was only so-so in her role, as her emotions throughout the movie felt too faked during portions of the movie. Meanwhile, Vera Farmiga (Emma) was just terrible, as her emotions felt even more fake than Millie Bobby Browns, when she wasn’t acting like a complete robot, while Charles Dance seemed to have the generic bad guy down pretty good, with no real desire to even try and bring more out of the role so he ended up being a rather boring character. I don’t think the basic premise was as bad as people say, but it could have been much better. I thought the idea of the Orca, and what it’s alpha signal really was, was a good idea, even though the whole premise of a device to control monsters has been done to death, even in the classic Godzilla movies. I do agree with the critics about the pacing of the movie, as every time they started building up a story arc, they would cut away to a different arc, killing any momentum that was being built up. One thing I did like was Serizawa’s sacrifice to heal Godzilla, as it seemed like a bit of karma since Serizawa had sacrificed himself to kill Godzilla in the original movie. The best thing about this movie was the special effects, as they were top notch. I liked all of the monster designs, especially Rodan, while the idea of making Ghidorah’s heads/necks act more serpentine gave him a more sinister feel, with the tail rattle adding an even more evil aspect to him. Rodan’s emerging from the volcano, as well as Ghidorah’s appearing in the storm clouds were both great bits of CGI, but the best was the scenes in the underwater temple, as those were particularly beautiful and breathtaking. Still, the critics are right and great special effects can’t cover for a weak story so here’s hoping that they do a better job in Godzilla Vs. Kong.
Rating: 3 out of 5